Vinyl flooring is a type of synthetic flooring that can offer you great benefits and versatility. It is somewhat similar to linoleum flooring and is considered a popular choice of flooring for kitchens and bathrooms.

Have a look at our Buyer's Guide to help you make a more informed choice.

Introduction

Vinyl flooring is a durable flooring material made from a combination of natural and synthetic polymer materials. It has been adopted more widely in our homes due to design and material innovations.

Choosing the type of vinyl flooring best-suited for your home application depends on several factors including cost, design preferences and length of time you intend to use the product. While there are many vinyl flooring options in the market, they broadly fall into the following:
 

vinyl flooring type

Types

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TypeDescriptionProsConsCost(Avg)Idea For
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) Flexible LVT Traditional LVT Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) Luxurious Resilient Flooring (LURF) High End Resilient Flooring (HERF)

This product type comprises several layers of different materials packed together to form a highly durable floor covering that has the look of real hardwood or stone.

Made with six to eight layers of material, the middle or core layer is typically made up of plasticized PVC with high limestone content. This makes them softer and flexible and because of its soft nature, they provide more foot comfort but tend to take the subfloor’s profile and make an uneven subfloor more visible.

They come in plank (LVP) or tile (LVT) form and are installed either by gluing them directly down to the subfloor or a floating install where each tile is locked into place via an interlocking click system and placed on top of the subfloor without any glue.

This click system creates a seamless and gap free flooring. However if the room has high foot traffic and is prone to heavy furniture being pushed across the surface, there is a chance for the tiles to roll or lift up. In such a scenario a glued down approach is recommended.

  • Good foot comfort
  • Lowest pricing compared to other types
     
  • Telegraphic effect. Any imperfections in subfloor will be shown on surface (e.g. unevenness or grout lines)
  • Susceptible to expansion & contraction over time
     
  • Even subfloor
Wood Plastic Composite vinyl (WPC) Engineered Vinyl Plank (EVP) Engineered Vinyl Flooring (EVF) High End Resilient Flooring ISOCORE (HERF ISOCORE)

This product type is an improvement of traditional LVT where its core is enhanced with a composition of polyvinyl chloride, calcium carbonate, wood-like or actual wood materials such as wood flour, and plasticisers. Added is also a foaming agent which makes it slightly softer and more comfortable in addition to being waterproof.  

Unlike traditional LVT, installation is via floating method with  each tile locked into place via an interlocking click system and placed on top of the subfloor without any glue.

  • Best foot comfort compared to other types
  • Perfect for imperfect subfloor
  • No expansion/contraction over time
  • Good scratch resistance
     
  • Due to softer core more likely to dent  if something heavy drops on it.
  • Uneven subfloor
  • Wet areas (e.g. bathroom)
     
Stone Plastic Composite Vinyl (SPC) Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring High End Resilient Flooring PhD (HERF PhD)

Newest generation of LVT product lines, this product type is made up of several layers, but the distinction is with its core where it is made of a composite of ultra-dense material like limestone. This rigid core prevents expansion & contraction of the tile.

Unlike WPC, there is no usage of foaming agents which provides less foot comfort but is more durable compared to the other types.

Installation is via floating method with  each tile locked into place via an interlocking click system and placed on top of the subfloor without any glue.

  • Perfect for imperfect subfloor
  • No expansion/contraction  over time
  • Good scratch resistance
  • Best dent resistance than other types
  • Least foot  comfort than other types (e.g. WPC)
  • Highest pricing compared to other types
     
Quick Estimate
  • Uneven subfloor
  • High foot traffic areas
  • Wet areas (e.g. bathroom)
     

Buying Considerations

  • Thickness - In short, thicker the plank, the sturdier it is. Thicker planks are denser and more substantial beneath your feet. A thicker plank can also cover up some imperfections in the subfloor. The main value is when you don’t have a perfectly smooth subfloor and thicker tiles or planks will mask some of the irregularities.  Thickness typically range from 2mm to 8.5mm and go for at least 4mm thick luxury vinyl flooring, especially if the sub-floor is not perfectly smooth.
  • Color fastness to light - All luxury Vinyl floors are treated with a UV inhibitor to help minimize effects of exposure to sunlight but fading may occur over time.  Check technical specifications of the vinyl material and look out for tests the vendor did to rate the color fastness of this material. Standards like EN20105-B02 or ISO105-B02 are common to test color fatness to light, and go for a material that has grade 6 or above.
  • Durability
    • Wear Layer - This is the top most layer of the vinyl flooring and is what protects your vinyl flooring from surface scratches and stains. In selecting a vinyl flooring, make sure the wear layer should be at least 0.2mm thick for a room with moderate foot traffic. For high traffic areas, go with a wear layer that is 0.5mm thick.
    • Scratch resistance - Many vinyl flooring warranty do not cover damages caused by usage of roller chairs without any floor protectors and is especially relevant for wheelchairs users . So it is important to select a vinyl material that have high scratch resistance. Standards like EN660-2/ASTM D3389 helps to rate a material's scratch resistance. There isn't a standardized rating for this, but look out for ratings like ‘no damage’, ‘Group T’ or '< 0.5 gm loss' as benchmarks.
    • Indentation resistance - A measure of resistance to indentation by an object. If the flooring is prone to have things accidentally been drop onto, it is wise to select a vinyl flooring that will easily be damaged and be left with a hole. Look out for standards like EN433/ISO24343-3 which rating should be as low as possible or ASTM F1265/ASTM D2632 where results should be as high as possible. If a vendor's specification sheet shows a pass, it is important to ask what is the passing criteria and if they cannot answer, then it is a red flag to not select it.
  • Slip resistance - Slip resistance should be one of the most important design considerations for safety reasons. Look out for standards like DIN51130  with a rating of R9 and above or EN13893 with a DS (Dry Slip) or ES (Enhanced Slip) rating.
  • Staining resistance -  Objective is to prevent liquid being absorbed into the vinyl flooring and changing the color/textual of the flooring. Look out for standards like ISO26987/EN423/ASTM 7925 with Class 0 (Not affected) as a benchmark. If a vendor's specification sheet shows a pass, it is important to ask what is the passing criteria and if they cannot answer, then it is a red flag to not select it.
  • Toxicity - vinyls are a variant of plastic and it is important to ensure that there are no harmful gases emitted as a daily item. It is important to ensure that there are low or no VOC emission of the vinyl flooring and that it is 100% phthalate-free. Look out for DIBT or Floor score certification. Also look out for standards like  EN14041/EN717-1/EN16516 that measures Formaldehyde gas release. Go for ratings that has E1 or Green Label. Standards like EN 16516 measures VOC emission and should look at the TVOC (Total VOC) for comparison.  should be lower than  0.5 mg/m3.
  • Fungal resistance - If the flooring is installed in area that is prone to humidity then making sure fungus don't grow is a must.  Looks for standards like ISO846/ASTM G21 with a rating of 2 or better.
  • Warranty - It is important to clarify what terms and conditions are in the warranty period (lifetime or otherwise) and to be clear if it covers only the vinyl flooring material itself or includes the  workmanship as well. Labour cost if required is a must to be clear on. Lastly, while many vendors do provide lifetime warranty, there’re a number of exceptions which will void this warranty (e.g. usage of roller chairs without any floor protectors). Have a review of daily household activity and pattern if they fit into such exceptions, if not either find another vendor which provides a more relaxed warranty cover or make sure your habits meet the warranty. Length of warranty is another considering factor, similar products sold by different vendors with a shorter warranty period can cost way lesser. If you’re only looking to stay short/mid term, then its worth while to look at a vendor with say 10 years warranty vs a lifetime one.

FAQ

Technical Terms

  • Subfloor - Subfloor is the foundation florring underneath the finish flooring material (e.g. Vinyl tile). Typical examples of subfloor are concrete screed flooring or ceramic titles. The condition of the subfloor will help determine the type of vinyl flooring to consider.
  • Wear layer -  Top surface that provides durability, stain and scratch resistance of vinyl flooring. The wear layer is usually a clear, urethane based coating that keeps the original appearance of the floor and provides easy maintenance.
  • Phthalates  - Phthalates are a form of plasticizers chemicals which are added to PolyVinyl Chloride(PVC) to improve the flexibility and durability of the material. In more than 40 years of study and use, phthalates have never been shown to cause harm to humans from their normal, intended use. Make sure flooring products are 100% phthalate-free
  • Formaldehyde - Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling, colourless gas used as a preservative in various products like vinyl flooring and many others. , Although formaldehyde is a natural chemical, constant exposure to large doses of it will cause a negative effect on our body. There are formaldehyde emission standards set by  authorities to regulate and are found in the technical specification of vinyl flooring. Avoid shady vendors who cannot show evidences of this.